How did Virgil Joseph '01 go from aspirations to become a doctor to a job with Canandaigua National Bank & Trust (CNB) and a place among Rochester Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” for 2015? We talked with him to find out.
When did you realize you weren’t going to have MD after your name?
Virgil Joseph: It wasn’t until my junior year. That’s when I started looking for something to fall back on. Since I’d always done well in math, I thought, “Why not make it a major?” At the time, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with [my math degree] when I graduated, but it was a good place to start.
Seems like it worked out pretty well. Where did that math degree take you first?
VJ: Back to my home in New York City. I thought it would be easy to find something in the finance industry. This was in August 2001, and two months later, the tragedy on 9/11 happened. After that, no one in the industry was hiring. That’s when I moved back to Rochester and found a job at [Strong Memorial Hospital], as an administrative assistant in the emergency department.
For a second, I started to fall in love with medicine again. Maybe give it another try. But then I got a call out of the blue from the National Bank of Geneva—as it was called at the time—looking to interview me for a position in their commercial underwriting department. That’s how I got started in banking.
Why do you think the bank came to you?
VJ: I had an Accounting/Finance Management Certificate from [Simon Business School]. We look at and interpret a lot of financial statements from different companies. Having that knowledge of accounting and an analytical background gave me a little bit of a leg up.
And now you’re a commercial loan officer.
VJ: That’s right. I try to represent the bank in a positive way and sell it in an effort to gain new business—small business loans from small- to medium-sized companies. I’ve been doing it for six years, and I love it. It probably seems out of character to anyone who knew me in college. I was an introvert, who didn’t go out much or talk to people I didn’t know. But this job requires me to be outgoing and strike up conversations because you never know where they might lead.
It helps that I’m passionate about the bank. I think that authenticity comes through when I talk to prospects, which has helped me to be successful.
Speaking of passion, has that played a role in your giving at the University?
VJ: Absolutely. It started with a conversation about my plans to give back. I thought about it and realized it had been about 14 years since I graduated, and I really felt I owed the University for a lot of my career. My wife, who also went to Rochester, and I discussed that maybe this was the right time.
But we had just had our fourth child, and couldn’t just write a check. Being able to do it over a five-year period [through the George Eastman Circle] was very appealing to us.
Did you designate your gift to support Arts, Sciences & Engineering because of your degree?
VJ: Yes, and I like to think part of the financial package I received when I started was due in part to someone else’s generosity. Now I can be that person, helping a student coming up, who maybe doesn’t have all the resources they need to [attend Rochester].
You have to feel strongly about where you give. It makes me proud to know the University is doing well, locally and nationally, and know that I’m contributing to its success.
Support: School of Arts & Sciences